By Quentin Choy
July 12, 2021
A World in Protest
It seems that protests have taken the world by storm in the last few months.
Protests by indigenous people have raged in Brazil.
Anti-monarchy protests continue in Thailand.
Protests against increased taxes and overall corruption inspired protests in Colombia.
Cuba Joins the Lot of Protests
Yesterday, protesters in Cuba marched on Havana citing the government’s failed response in food shortages, high prices, and a lack of coronavirus vaccines.
Cuban immigrants in Florida celebrated as their homeland protested the communist government that has ruled Cuba for decades.
They hope that communism will fall in Cuba. Many Cuban-Americans in Florida are conservative, since they are descended from Cubans who fled Fidel Castro’s communist revolution.
According to the Associated Press, around 300 pro-government supporters showed up to counter the anti government protests.
Police beat several protesters and arrested them.
Internet connection was also limited, leading some to believe that the Cuban government restricted access in hopes of hiding the protests.
The United States and the Cuban Protests
Elected Republicans like Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and others in Congress have applauded the protests in Cuba against the communist government. Marco Rubio posted this tweet which he wrote on his iPad:
Despite the nature of the protests, something we should remember is that the root cause of these protests can be easily addressed.
If Donald Trump could easily apply these sanctions on his violent way out the door, Joe Biden can just as easily remove the sanctions.
While the authoritarian government certainly plays a role in Cuban discontent, the American sanctions play a massive one too.
President Biden commented on the protests, saying:
“We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime.“President Joe Biden on protests in Havana, Cuba
While I support the rights of these Cubans to protest on both the pro and anti government sides, it’s important to remember that the United States has a key interest in Cuban politics.
They’ve had an interest in Cuba since the 1890s.
In terms of both anti-communism and geopolitical interests, the United States government would love to see the end of communism in Cuba.
This would aid American efforts in countering left-wing leaders throughout Latin America and bolstering American power in the region.
However, the United States and other western nations need to look at these protests and remember that they could happen here.
If the government thought that protests surrounding police brutality or a supposedly “stolen election” was bad, they should think of how angry people would become were they to reach a point of food shortages, price hikes, and lack of access to healthcare.
A Timeline of Cuban History
I’ll end this post with a timeline showing how Cuba and the United States have gotten to this point.
Cuban history is marked by its tenuous relationship with the United States over the years. Here is a quick timeline of key events in Cuban history:
1898 – Cuba gains independence from Spain following Spanish-American War. U.S. gains influence over the country.
1952 – Fulgencio Batista is supported by the U.S. as Cuba’s dictator.
1953 – Cuban Revolution begins. A young Fidel Castro and his brother Raul lead an attack on the Moncada Barracks, leading to their arrest.
1958 – Batista is ousted from power.
1961 – President Kennedy and the CIA attempt to remove Castro from power in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.
1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis
1975 – Cuba sends troops to Angola, trying to support and spread communism abroad.
1991 – The Soviet Union, Cuba’s largest trading partner dissolves, deceasing quality of life in Cuba.
2006 – Fidel Castro’s presidency ends.
2015 – The U.S. reopens its embassy in Cuba and President Barack Obama removes Cuba from the state sponsor of terrorism list.
2016 – Fidel Castro dies at age 90.
2021 – Outgoing President Donald Trump returns Cuba to the state sponsor off terrorism list and applies new sanctions to the country.
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